»Dedicated to Roman Haubenstock-Ramati«

For 4 violas
Duration: ca. 10 minutes


The Fantasia per 4 Viole is the second work that I composed during my postgraduate studies with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati.

The notion of the non-simultaneity of acoustic events became the program of the first movement of the Fantasia, which was entitled »«Canon.« Two canons played at different speeds are thereby superimposed: the first and fourth viola play a canon in 6/8 time, while the second and the third play a canon in 4/4 time. Since the eighth notes in both violas are the same, the first and fourth viola play four bars, while the second and third play three bars, before they unite again. While the second and the third viola play half notes reminiscent of a chorale, the first and fourth violas commence with a hemiola upbeat, which is followed by a dancelike element in lively eighth notes. Thus it is not only two different tempi that are juxtaposed, but also two different characters: that of the church song and the dance. Both canons now go through some phases in which their motions change in such a way that they become more and more similar, until finally all four violas are playing pounding sixteenth notes in unsynchronized quadruplets, which finally lead into descending unconventional scales.

In the second movement, entitled »Sonate,« the simultaneity of heterogeneous elements is achieved by the main and secondary theme played by the first two violas simultaneously, while the other two violas provide a homogeneous accompaniment. The priorities of the individual parts of the sonata form are thereby also destabilized and rearranged. A very short exposition is followed by a very long development section, and the indicated recapitulation receives developmental attributes. More important than this starting point are the many variants of attempts to unite the four instrumental lines, something which is de facto realized at the end of the piece through written out joint runs.

In the concluding movement, »Variations« the heterogeneity of the piece becomes part of a subject whose individual components are then varied in different ways, but also appear once again in a contrapuntally-constructed asynchronicity.

The Fantasia is without a doubt the most advanced piece I composed while still a student: other pieces from that time include the works comprising the opus numbers 1 through 6, the Miniatures from the first volume of the Violin Method, and some works without opus numbers. Even when conventional forms seem to operate in the Fantasia, the compositional design and the idea of the piece reveal them to be nothing more than mere outward shell. In this instance, the most important element is not form, but rather the processes by which heterogeneous elements gradually fuse with each other, and transform the element of asynchronicity into a unifying togetherness.

With the Structures op. 7, a new compositional phase begins—a phase of searching, of exploring different possibilities of working with intervals, which eventually lead to the discovery of new compositional principles that finally manifest themselves beginning with the Bagatelles on the Name of György Ligeti op. 14/3a (1989-1995). (René Staar, February 2016)